Brathay Windermere Marathon, Sunday, May 17, 2015

Elaine Bisson

Having spent most of my childhood holidays camping and walking in the lakes, Windermere marathon sounded like a great challenge. I’d stuck to the 12 week training plan Allan had given me to the T. I had trailed in Jon Ayres’ dust as he rallied me along on the early morning weekend runs. This was finally it, this was marathon day! I knew what I had to do “just keep running, just keep running” (thanks Katy Walton!), I actually had a marathon race plan…I was going to stick to it. 3:20…was it too ambitious? To coin Allan’s much loved phrase “butterflies flying in formation”, they weren’t, they were out of control.

It’s a pretty low key marathon, registration is open from friday until 15 minutes before the race begins. There are about 700 runners, including those amazing 10in10 runners who run Windermere marathon for 10 consecutive days…their final, our one and only. There’s ample parking in the field, plenty of portaloos portable toilets [You’ll have Dick emailing us again, I kid ye not. – Ed], changing facilities and even an ice plunge pool if you’re brave enough to yelp in public!

At 10:10 all runners are called to assemble on the lawn in front of Brathay Hall and we are taken down to the start line following the drum band. I took my place, inching near the front and looked around at my competitors.

10:30, the gun fires and we are off. I try really hard to reign myself in, after tapering I get a little too excited that I can actually run again and usually set off far too fast. The course climbs steadily for the first 3 miles, it plays around a bit then there is a hill to rival Redhills on the 8th mile. I took my time up it and got to the top with the help of two bag pipers, their music drifting through the trees.

Its quite a pretty run, passing through Hawkshead, along Esthwaite water, and on to Newby Bridge. I was running well and got a lift at Newby bridge where the street was lined with 20/30 spectators clapping and shouting encouragement. For most of the course you get the odd hiker or cyclist..thats it. Oh and trying to avoid the odd bus and car as it hurtles down the country lanes is also a must!

A lovely lady is waiting in a lay-by with a table heavily laden with kendal mint cake, flapjack, cupcakes, jelly babies…I resisted temptation, stopping for a picnic was not on the plan and Jon Ayres had warned me off taking any mint cake from strangers! Then on to the second half back up the side of Windermere. This is where it starts getting tough, just looking up the Lake seems immense! Again no rest for weary legs, undulating as always, a pretty hefty climb again at mile 15, by mile 18 I’d really wished I’d considered a flat course, this was relentless.

On to “icecream mountain”, nicknamed by regular Brathay marathoners, a hill with an icecream van at the top and a few cheering spectators. By this stage it did feel like a mountain and I’m afraid to say I walked up that mountain. However in walking I actually overtook the man in front of me who was still trying to run. Encouraged I set off again, eager to make up my lost seconds. My final gel guzzled down, in the 22nd mile I felt like I was flying, autopilot, strong and buzzing from the sugar rush. Great encouragement from Allan had me waving manically, I felt great, I was nearly there surely…then the dip and I still had 3 miles to go, I could see the finish now and it didn’t seem to be getting any closer. I’d caught up 10 runners, at the next water station I passed 3 women, this urged me on, I felt strong but my watch told me I was slowing…

1 mile to go on from Ambleside, just round the tip of the lake, over a little bridge, through the bottom of the drive. I catch a glimpse of my eldest Lucy waiting at the gateway. Allan shouts on encouragement to get up the hill as fast as I can (I later find he had thought I’d get 3:19:56…oh dear must have been the walk up the hill!). I push on up the hill. Harry and Sophie are waiting, John is at the top. It feels like forever and my legs are really tightening up, I really want to stop, I let out an involuntary ow!ow!ow! , then relief as it levels to the finish. A small runway lined with clapping and cheering spectators, the commentator is saying my name over the loud speaker, I finally get over the line. A lady puts a medal round my neck and I drop at her feet absolutely finished, 3:20:28! Bang on target! Water, banana, jelly babies await. After a quick change, Lucy helping as my legs keep cramping up, I hit the tea stall…lots of tea later and onto the ice lollies, then gin and tonic sorbet…a little elated and maybe a little drunk they announce the prizes are to be awarded. I somehow bagged 3rd lady and first in my f35 age category…a cup, a tin of Grasmere gingerbread and £50 of asics vouchers…but that is not the icing on the cake, the fact that Joss Naylor is the man to present it to me pretty much makes this day “A Great Day!”

My long suffering husband has spent most of the weekend entertaining our 3 kids and puppy as I have been in a world of my own in the pre marathon void. The best thing for him about this race is that I got the time I set out to get…relief for him I might actually be in a good mood until I start contemplating my next target. The next best thing for him is that the kids were in heaven. They feasted from the lovely food stalls…hot dogs, burgers, chips, candyfloss, crepes, waffles, ice cream. They ate them all. They also went on high ropes, low ropes, climbing wall, zip wire and a fun run…and Elsa and Olaf were drifting around throughout the day.

So they say, “mummy, can you do this again next year?”…now that is a question worth considering!

Results

position name club cat cat pos gun time chip time
1 Grant Johnson MOPEN 1 02:40:47 02:40:46
25 Katherine Cousins Lancaster & Morecambe AC FOPEN 1 03:07:27 03:07:23
53 Elaine Bisson FV35 1 03:20:32 03:20:28
259 Lucy Cowton FOPEN 14 04:01:24 04:00:35
299 Andrew Thompson MOPEN 113 04:07:34 04:06:42
318 Eric Green MV45 43 04:10:25 04:09:36
374 Ian Spencer MV50 46 04:22:46 04:21:42
397 Melanie Hudson FV35 24 04:27:10 04:26:19
400 Dave Robson MV60 3 04:27:42 04:26:50
498 Alister Robson MV40 64 04:45:17 04:44:25
608 Jacquie Robson FV35 38 05:16:17 05:15:25

699 finishers.

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